Leadership magazine March/April 2018 V47 No. 4 | Page 9

2015-16 ELA and Math CAASPP
whall SD , driven to ensure every English learner on their campus is re-designated English proficient before they leave our system at the end of sixth grade . They guarantee families and students have a connection to their school through their own voice , while striving to eliminate the achievement gap for English learners .
Daria Ramirez , assistant principal at Old Orchard and Valencia Valley , Ernestina Aguilar , assistant principal at Peachland , and Rosalinda Barajas , assistant principal at Wiley Canyon and McGrath are living proof of the power of education and the importance of building instructional leadership capacity in assistant principals .
Far too often , educational systems leave APs to deal with attendance and discipline issues . These are our future principals , so why not invest in them early ?
Background on NSD
In an era of new accountability and the implementation of the new California Standards in English language arts and mathematics , by most measures Newhall School District ’ s results have been outstanding . In 2014-15 , year one of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress ( CAASPP ), 67 percent of all students in grades 3-6 met or exceeded standards on the ELA CAASPP and 53 percent of all students in grades 3-6 met or exceed standards on the math CAASPP .
Through ongoing professional development efforts and a laser focus on data analysis during collaborative team time every Friday afternoon , NSD saw a rise in scores during year two ( 2015-16 ) to 72 percent of all students being proficient in ELA and 63 percent in math .
Gains of this magnitude are reason to celebrate within any school system . However , peeling away the layers yielded a glaring gap within various student groups , specifically English learners and economically disadvantaged students .
During the 2016-17 school year , Newhall experienced a convergence of a number of large-scale initiatives , including implementing new math curriculum , extensive math professional development , and a focus on supporting English learners through a new inquiry process .
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Initial district benchmark assessment data in mathematics yielded a significant reduction in the achievement gap for English learners , unheard of in an implementation year . That said , we knew that students in schools with the highest levels of instructional and teacher leadership performed significantly higher in both mathematics and English language arts proficiency , when compared to schools with the lowest levels of instructional leadership .
As a system , we historically focused much of our professional development on our teachers . It was time to think about how to support our leaders .
NSD and the CEL
2015-16 ELA and Math CAASPP
With a keen sense of urgency to eliminate these gaps heading into the 2016-17 school year , the leaders in NSD decided to
Math All Students English Learner Economically Disadvantaged
Instructional Leadership Cycle
Analyze impact
Analyze evidence
Implement and support
Determine a focus partner with the University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership ( CEL ) to develop instructional leadership expertise across the district .
Leaders utilized CEL ’ s 4 Dimensions of Instructional Leadership™ framework to identify strong leadership practices that support their goal of eliminating the achievement gap . Part of the development of leadership practice included learning how to analyze instruction using CEL ’ s 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning™ instructional framework and the 5D + ™ Rubric for Instructional Growth and Teacher Evaluation .
Using a cohort model , district leaders learned to coach school leaders to gather and analyze evidence from their school to identify a student learning problem . The student learning problem guided both leaders and teachers to identify areas within their own practice to refine and develop further .
With a focus on an identified problem of practice , a district coach engaged with a principal and classroom teachers in a CEL process known as an inquiry cycle , whereby participants developed specific skills and strategies in their own practice with the goal of impacting student learning .
During the inquiry cycle , school leaders asked questions of themselves like , “ What are the learning strengths and challenges of my students ?” and “ What are the related instructional strengths and challenges of teaching practice ?” Answering these questions helped to identify the problem of practice the school leader could work on for a specific period of time . In Newhall ’ s case , it was six months .
School leaders learned to focus on the
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